This year I’m going to do a dedicated post for each month of Royally Good Reads, the royal book club I run on Facebook with my friend Mallory Bowling of The Palace Avenue. This year’s first pick is The Gown by Jennifer Robson and I’m really excited about it! The book has been getting rave reviews all over the place, and as someone who loves historical fiction and The Queen, it sounds like the perfect book for me.
From the internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France comes an enthralling historical novel about one of the most famous wedding dresses of the twentieth century—Queen Elizabeth’s wedding gown—and the fascinating women who made it.
“Millions will welcome this joyous event as a flash of color on the long road we have to travel.”
—Sir Winston Churchill on the news of Princess Elizabeth’s forthcoming wedding
London, 1947: Besieged by the harshest winter in living memory, burdened by onerous shortages and rationing, the people of postwar Britain are enduring lives of quiet desperation despite their nation’s recent victory. Among them are Ann Hughes and Miriam Dassin, embroiderers at the famed Mayfair fashion house of Norman Hartnell. Together they forge an unlikely friendship, but their nascent hopes for a brighter future are tested when they are chosen for a once-in-a-lifetime honor: taking part in the creation of Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown.
Toronto, 2016: More than half a century later, Heather Mackenzie seeks to unravel the mystery of a set of embroidered flowers, a legacy from her late grandmother. How did her beloved Nan, a woman who never spoke of her old life in Britain, come to possess the priceless embroideries that so closely resemble the motifs on the stunning gown worn by Queen Elizabeth II at her wedding almost seventy years before? And what was her Nan’s connection to the celebrated textile artist and holocaust survivor Miriam Dassin?
With The Gown, Jennifer Robson takes us inside the workrooms where one of the most famous wedding gowns in history was created. Balancing behind-the-scenes details with a sweeping portrait of a society left reeling by the calamitous costs of victory, she introduces readers to three unforgettable heroines, their points of view alternating and intersecting throughout its pages, whose lives are woven together by the pain of survival, the bonds of friendship, and the redemptive power of love.
Join the club
You can be part of Royally Good Reads by clicking here and requesting to join. Our book club discussion will be Friday, January 25 – we post questions throughout the day, so pop in whenever you can to take part. We’ll also be welcoming the author for a special Q&A session!
Note: Some customers experienced a shipping delay on Amazon with the paperback version of the book due to availability. Luckily, mine arrived today, but other orders are not slated to come until January 21 or later. If you’re just buying it now and want to take part in the book club, I recommend ordering the Kindle version, or from another bookstore (Barnes and Noble had it in the store and they seem to have it in current stock online as well.).